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Comment Re:SA Geothermal research (Score 1) 269

I'm not the OP here, but I was intrigued enough to look in Wikipedia. In what seems a very optimistic article, this sentence is buried: "South Australia has been described as 'Australia's hot rock haven' and this renewable energy form could provide an estimated 6.8% of Australia's base load power needs by 2030." Note the qualifiers: "could", "estimated", "by 2030"--and even then only 6.8% (from that part of Australia--but apparently that's the best part).

I don't think I'd put my money on it.

Comment Re:Makework (Score 1) 1135

Disclaimer first: predictions are hard, especially about the future.

Seems to me that the problem is not the number of people, but the proportion of them that are employable. Now mind you, we've come through the agricultural revolution and the industrial revolution, and managed to retrain the workforce each time. But this time the machines are going to be really smart, and it's not obvious to me that your average person is going to be smarter than the machine no matter how much retraining/ education you give them.

If that's so, then population control doesn't help; you'll always have N% of the population that is unemployable, regardless of the number. (Ok, a population of zero would be ok, but I don't think we want to go there.)

In other words, "them" will always be with us. And you (or I) may find ourselves as one of them sooner than we'd expect.

Comment Re:Makework (Score 1) 1135

Linguist here. I work on a daily basis with accountants (that's not their title, but let's say it is for the sake of argument or agreement); they help manage the money end of my projects, and a bunch of other projects. If we were dealing with one project, then a spreadsheet would be fine. But we're dealing with scores of projects, not to mention payroll (with individuals being paid off of from one to ten of those projects), and then there's all the taxation details that you guys know about. All this has to be tied together.

The impression from where I sit is that it's very easy to make a mistake in setting up a spreadsheet (we do have templates, but still). But an even bigger problem, it appears to me (and remember, I'm not doing this) is transferring the numbers from one spreadsheet to another. Someone needs to ensure that everyone is allocated 100% to some combination of the available projects, no more and no less, that we do the best we can at using up $ by the end of a project. (And projects do not, by and large, have identical begin/ end dates.) And each of those projects is on a separate spreadsheet, which as I say need to be tied together to ensure everyone is correctly allocated. The tying seems to be done by hand: John Doe is allocated at 37% on the project spreadsheet, so copy that '37' over to the payroll spreadsheet by hand.

Also, everything on a spreadsheet is done with labels of rows and columns: A, B, C...AA, BB...; and 1, 2, 3... I learned decades ago in computer programming 101 to use meaningful names for my variables. I don't know whether it's even possible to give meaningful labels to spreadsheet rows, columns and cells, but I can see that no one (where I work) does so. That seems to be another recipe for disaster.

In sum, it seems like a mess, and spreadsheets seem to me to be only a step above using an abacus. (Ok, a couple steps; an abacus can't print.) From where I sit, it seems like we need some kind of accounting system that ties everything together, with real names for values: something like Salary[John Doe] + Overhead[John Doe] not A1+A3.

There was an effort to move us over from spreadsheets to a real accounting system, but in the end it foundered over the cost (purchase/lease, re-training, data transfer...), and perhaps the inability to find an accounting system that worked the way we do.

If spreadsheets hadn't been invented, would we be using rational, tailorable, relatively inexpensive accounting systems?

Comment Re:Why Python 2? (Score 1) 179

But I have to make that assumption regardless of how file open() works; for me, it's just a question of how much code I have to write, whether I need to import the codecs library and call its functions, or whether that's done under the hood.

I know about the PYTHONIOENCODING variable, but I want to make my program self-contained. Not every computer I run on will have PYTHONIOENCODING set.

Comment Re:Why Python 2? (Score 1) 179

I can see the logic behind that, but it means that a program that works on one computer will not work the same on another computer, even when (IIRC) the input is coming from (or going to) a pipe, which means it has no necessary relation to whatever encoding someone's shell is set to. We've been bitten by that several times.

What I'm getting at is that I have to write code like this:
        strMainFSTOut = codecs.getwriter('utf-8')(sys.stdout.buffer)
when it seems like
        strMainFSTOut = open(sys.stdout, 'w', encoding='utf-8')
ought to be sufficient.

In the end it's a minor irritation: I can never remember the incantation when writing a new program, and have to go back to my old code. 3 is better than 2 was.

Comment being dangerous does not require much intelligence (Score 1) 150

Lions, tigers and bears are quite dangerous. Most of us wouldn't consider them particularly intelligent. (If you think they are, then consider sharks, or the Portuguese Man O'War.)

Of course we put them in zoos (or aquaria), not the other way around. But an automated tank could be quite hard to put in a zoo, even if it wasn't "intelligent."

Comment Rocket Science != Computer Science (Score 1) 171

One big difference between rocket "science" and CS is that the rocket science remained the province of a few countries for a long time (Soviet Union and US, later China, the EU and India, with most other countries still struggling to field mid-range missiles). But CS, and particularly programming skills, can be copied and then used by almost any other country. And that makes a CS race comparable to the Space Race of the 60s rather unlikely. ...and I realize that basic programming skills are not computer _science_. But even real computer science (e.g. algorithmic complexity) is much more available to the public than rocket "science."

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